Ethiopia Study Tour to TARA Community Rock Art Projects

From November 11-20, 2013, TARA hosted eleven Ethiopian cultural heritage professionals.

Ethiopia Study Tour

The purpose of this tour was to initiate dialogue with communities in Kenya about approaches to rock art management and cultural heritage preservation. The trip also provided participants with an opportunity to observe first hand TARA’s community projects (Mfangano Island, Lake Victoria and Kakapel, western Kenya) as well as to learn about community wildlife conservation. They were accompanied by TARA’s Executive Chairman David Coulson and TARA’s Community Projects Manager Gloria Borona.

Ethiopia Study Tour

Two rock art sites on Mfangano Island (Kwitone and Mawanga) were visited. The group also met with members of the Abasuba Community and visited the Mwanga Rock Art School which was established from proceeds of tourism at the site. The Abasuba Community Peace Museum is where they engaged in inter-cultural knowledge sharing with the Abasuba Community Council of Elders. Later in the trip, the group visited another TARA-sponsored community rock art site at Kakapel. The group was entertained by community dancers and held discussions with local committee stakeholders. A safari through the Maasa Mara Nature Reserve presented the group with an opportunity to hear more about wildlife conservation.

Ethiopia Study Tour

Prior to embarking on the tour, the group attended a session at TARA headquarters on conservation. David Western, a well known author and wildlife conservationist who followed Richard Leakey in the 1990s as Director of Kenya Wildlife Service and who is well known in Kenya for championing the vital role of communities in wildlife conservation, spoke of his experiences to the group. This was followed by lunch at TARA and a visit to the Giraffe Centre in Karen managed by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife.

Ethiopia Study Tour

Ethiopia Study TourThe group commented that their interaction with various Kenyan communities was very positive. Joint activities encouraged the forging of friendships and relationship building, whilst at the same time allowing for information and knowledge sharing and candid critique about challenges being faced. Lessons learned were valuable in terms of exchanging ideas about what their Kenyan counterparts are doing and borrowing ideas on strengthening and/or establishing cultural and natural heritage conservation projects in Ethiopia.

Kwitone Shelter